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Hungarian Investigation Hints Nõo Was Aware of Horse Meat Mislabeling

A cloud of doubt hangs over the Nõo meat processing company despite being cleared of wrongdoing in a horse meat scandal that surfaced in April.

Äripäev reported yesterday that Hungarian officials had concluded that the Hungarian supplier which sold Nõo 10 tons of horse meat had correctly labeled the meat on its product code, therefore alluding that Nõo had been knowledgeable of the contents when it mislabeled it as beef.

CEO Toomas Kruustük has denied allegations, saying it is not standard practice to check product codes on goods purchased within the European single market. That claim has been backed up by the Estonian Veterinary and Food Board, which dismissed accusations against Nõo after an investigation.

"We had no way of knowing that someone can suddenly write something else in the code,“ Kruustük told ETV.

Tarmo Sikk, head of international trade oversight at the Veterinary and Food Board, said: "We do not currently have any reason to believe that the Nõo meat processing company's actions were intentional. The people picking up the goods simply did not pay attention to the code since they were dealing with internal EU trading and in that case the code is not an issue.“

The regulator has resisted calls for major penalties, reasoning that Nõo has already been damaged by a loss of customers and from taking the product off of store shelves, and the company has implemented new measures to avoid repeating the mistake.

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